When I was younger it seemed like an eternity between a film being on at the pictures and it being on telly. Which was because it typically was an eternity. By the time a video of it came out it was almost forgotten which was perhaps the idea, to be absolutely sure that every last drop of cinema cash had been wrung out of the celluloid and it was ready for people to relive in their own homes and pay for over again.
Today though the Amazon pre-orders for the blu-ray of a summer blockbuster are up before the first pair of 3D glasses are slipped on at the local multiplex. Still though it would surely be madness to release a film in cinemas if it were, for example, shown on Film4 at the same time?
Maybe not. A Field in England, a film by Ben Wheatley was released on 5th July across formats – on disc, on-demand, on TV and on the big screen. The black-and-white film, shot on Red Epic and Canon C300 cameras tells the story of three deserters from the English Civil War who are forced to help an alchemist search for mushrooms in the aforementioned field – which is its sole location.
It is both the production and distribution that are important though. The digital technology to film and distribute the movie are likely to reinvigorate the industry as lower-budget films become increasingly viable. The widespread outlets enabled Wheatley to reach the greatest audience possible and he believes that it wouldn’t reduce the cinema audience for example – there will always be people who prefer to see a flick on the big screen and others who will always wait for the DVD or TV so why not give everybody what they want from the start. The film received funding from the BFI which supports experimental release models and the distribution was in collaboration with Film4 and Picturehouse Entertainment.
So it seems that despite the fears of some in the entertainment business 21st century filming and distribution technology looks like creating a renaissance in film rather than signing its death warrant.